Chapter 1: Prevention and Preparedness Phase

Typhoon Mangkhut was predicted to be one of the most powerful tropical cyclones in record. Having been through the destruction brought by strong typhoon Hato in 2017, different districts have become more alert and carried out preventive measures to protect their community. For example, Sai Kung District Council had worked with the authorities concerned to strengthen the breakwater in the area to prevent flooding during cyclone-triggered storm surge [1]

Thanks to the early alert for Mangkhut of Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Hongkongers geared up for the storm arrival even before the Standby Signal No. 1 was hoisted on 14 Sep (Fri) [2] [3] [4]. All parties in society did their part to prepare for the storm and minimize potential loss:

  1. Household members [5]
    • Stocked up food
    • Applied adhesive tapes on windows
    • Built brick walls to protect houses in low-lying areas from floods
  2. Business owners [5]
    • Transferred outdoor properties indoors and at higher level
    • Surrounded stores with sand bags
  3. Property management companies [5]
    • Installed water sensor and additional water pumps in underground car parks
  4. Community
    • Helped residents in low-lying areas such as Tai O to minimize loss by moving home appliances to higher places, arranged for safe settlement for stray cats, and urged for evacuation upon the approach of the typhoon [6]
    • There were also other organizations mobilizing volunteers to assist elders who live alone. For example, the volunteers helped repair vulnerable parts of these elders' apartments, and prepared food-stock for those who might have difficulty fetching supplies for themselves  [7]
  5. Media [8] [9] 
    • Updated typhoon news regularly
    • Helped raise awareness on preparatory measures
    • Reminded the public to be aware of any severe distress, since some people may have excessive worries or anticipatory anxiety due to the possible damages brought by Mangkhut
  6. Government
    Convened inter-departmental meetings for response plan. Some response measures of various departments are extracted below [10]:  
    1. Hong Kong Observatory [11]
      • Closely monitored the track of the typhoon
    2. Fire Service Department [12]
      • Prepared emergency workers and equipment for deployment, e.g. inspection of potential flooding sites to allocate manpower and equipment for possible rescue operations
      • Maintained close contact with Security Bureau and other departments concerned for possible response measures
    3. Home Affairs Department [13]
      • Communicated with Districts Officers about the needs of elders living alone
      • Laid out contingencies for different typhoon signals:
        • Standby Signal No. 1: Activate hotline services
        • Strong Wind Signal No. 3: Open Temporary Shelters
      • Disseminated evacuation reminder for residents in low-lying areas
    4. Drainage Services Department [14]
      • Reached out to residents in low-lying areas for preventive measures against flooding, e.g. installing water gates and pumps
      • Inspected and cleared drainage vulnerable to blockage


Lessons Learned


With all concerted efforts, Hong Kong was more than lucky to suffer no serious casualties from Mangkhut. Successful preparedness rests upon the active participation and good coordination of all parties, which was demonstrated in our preparations for Mangkhut.

On the other hand, there were requests for the government to increase collaboration with the community. For example, leaders of resident-led organizations in Tai O urged the authorities to disclose statistics of elders living alone in the neighborhood for better deployment of volunteers and resources. They also urged for more frequent communication with the authorities to avoid resource overlap [6]

The general public seemed to have shown active participation in the preparedness of the typhoon. However, local advocate of disaster preparedness and response, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Disaster Preparedness and Response Institute (HKJCDPRI) found that most citizens did not prepare for potential water shortage and power cut due to the failure to realize such possibilities. Therefore, the HKJCDPRI recommended a comprehensive review of disaster preparedness and response plans from all stakeholders. Further information about HKJCDPRI's survey and recommendations can be found on their website [15].